Dear Co-op Members,
All of us who work in retail know how much our words matter. When you’re communicating with people, the words you use to convey the message can make all the difference. With that in mind, I’d like to tell you about some wording we will be changing, and why the change is worth celebrating.
Over the past few months, a committee of members, board members, management, and staff worked together to change some of the wording in our employee handbook. I’m happy to report that soon we will be phasing out the at-will employment language in our handbook and replacing it with wording more closely aligned with EL 5, a policy that lays out guidelines for the treatment of staff at our Co-op.
There are many components to EL 5, but the overriding directive is this: staff will not be treated in any way that is unfair, unsafe, unclear, or inconsistent with cooperative values and principles. In summary, the language of the handbook will be even more in line with our Co-op’s policies, values, and principles. In the process, the at-will employment language will go away completely.
By its very nature, at-will employment is a polarizing topic. The term is used in U.S. labor law. In general, it means an employee can be dismissed by an employer at any time for any reason or no reason at all. And likewise, an employee is similarly entitled to leave a job without reason or warning. Some feel at-will employment is unjust, while others feel it’s an egalitarian approach that levels the playing field.
Is at-will employment right or wrong, good or bad? It’s a complex topic, and one far beyond the scope of the change we have made here. What I’m so proud of is our response to members and staff. Over the years, we have heard concerns from good-hearted, conscientious people who have expressed their view that at-will employment language may not be appropriate for our Co-op. We listened. Then we put good people on it, people who represented a cross section of our cooperative. They worked together to make an important change that benefits everyone and will move our Co-op forward. To me, it’s one of the many examples of cooperation that happens here every day.
My thanks to all the people who worked together to make this happen. As I often say, it’s cooperation at its finest. And the language of cooperation is something we can all agree on.
Have questions about this or want to know more? My door is always open to you.
—Ed Fox, General Manager
Above, a card adorned with words that reflect the culture of our cooperative. We will be phasing out the at-will employment language in our employee handbook and replacing it with wording more aligned with our values and principles.